AUSTLII needs funds

Any Australian lawyer worth her salt is aware of AUSTLII. (Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 20 years?)

As part of my PhD, I am investigating law from all over the world: including Australia, England, Canada, the USA, Ireland, Israel, France, Germany… Australia is streets ahead of any of those other countries in providing free access to legal materials. It is great because it means I can research from home.

Austlii also allows me to research my legal posts on this blog thoroughly, and to familiarise myself with the relevant law before I write.

I think it’s an important democratic right to give people free and easy access to statutes which are purported enacted for their benefit.

But unfortunately, Austlii is running out of funding. The donors who are glaringly absent are many of the firms who use this resource, as well as many of the Courts whose decisions are published by the site (although there are some who give generously). Have a look at this post from the Ethics Forum – Are most lawyers bagel thieves?

I haven’t got much money (casual lecturers are paid terribly) but I use Austlii all the time. I am going to make a donation (as much as I can afford) to this worthy cause. I ask other lawyers and non-lawyers who use this resource to consider doing the same.

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6 Comments

Filed under AUSTLII, Australia, Internet, law, legal education

6 responses to “AUSTLII needs funds

  1. fairlane

    I can save you some time on researching American Law. If you’re rich there are none.

  2. pete m

    I have today written to my law society requesting membership wide funding in our annual membership fees. We have just gone through with the 07 renewals, so I have requested an email be sent to all partners to support this website.

    It is invaluable.

    And yes, I will personally contribute what I can.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  3. Pete,

    I actually came across the issue yesterday when looking for a statute – decided to click on the funding link – and was horrified. Apparently a contribution of $20 from every Australian lawyer would make a difference.

    I will also write to our Law Institute asking for an amount in our membership fees to go to Austlii. It only has to be $20 to make a tremendous difference. That’s not much for a “subscription”.

    LE

  4. marcellous

    I’m going to make a donation, but of course the problem is the Kyoto problem: no-one wants to be the only one who is doing something.

    It’s all very well for Austlii to talk about lawyers and other organisations as “stakeholders,” but the particular value of Austlii is its accessibility to everyone, and especially to those who are not lawyers. The big end of town mostly also subscribe to commercial services, so that if they use Austlii it is often simply a question of convenience over logging in to services which they have in fact already paid for. Why should they be subsidising the public good?

    I can’t see why Austlii’s relatively modest funding needs can’t be met by the state and federal governments. Here, too, I guess, everyone wants everybody else to chip in at the same time (though the Commonwealth does indirectly chip in to an extent because donations are tax apparently deductible).

    My own view is that they should make a more concerted appeal for donations from taxpayers to donate up to the end of this financial year (when people will get the benefit relatively soon) which could then tide them over for sufficient time beyond that when they can then mobilise for a more satisfactory ongoing basis of funding from larger organisations and in particular government. They should be updating their donation website more frequently than they have been doing to try to get a snowball effect over the next month.

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